Last Saturday night Doug and I had a very exciting evening. Our daughters were at a party so we did the grocery shopping, picked up some food to cook when we got home, and then watched a movie on pay-per-view. Yeah I know, you’re thinking that sounds boring as hell. Truth is, it may not have been all that exciting, but it was relaxing for us, and it was a time to spend alone together.
This kind of evening was very typical before Doug’s emotional affair (except we were rarely alone), but since D-day we both have made an effort to make our weekends more “exciting” and different. But honestly this kind of evening felt very comfortable and safe to me.
As we were unloading the groceries in our usual systematic and cooperative way, I began thinking about what it meant to be “roommates” and whether that was really such a bad thing.
When couples have been together as long as we have you develop routines that make your busy lives less stressful. Do these routines really ruin marriages? Does everything in our lives have to be new and exciting? Haven’t we earned this kind of security and comfort? Isn’t that one reason why we got married to our spouses in the first place?
Since the emotional affair I have really missed the old days when I felt secure enough to put on my bleach-stained sweats, snuggle up on the couch and fall asleep by nine o’clock. In many ways I miss the boring couple that we used to be.
I realize that we have tried too hard to be teenagers again and that we are too old to stay up to all hours of the night. After all, we do have responsibilities we need to tend to and life can’t always be fun and games. Oh, and not to mention that hangovers are no fun and they seem to last longer than they used to.
At the same time, I have also learned that we can get too comfortable in a situation and continuing this boring pattern for a period of time will breed discontent and resentment between married couples to a point where something needs to be done to shake things up. And I am not talking about hanging from the chandeliers, joining a swingers club, naked bungee jumping, or partying like rock stars.
Here are some practical suggestions that require little or no money, but might just help to break up the routine and allow you to feel like a couple rather than just “roommates.” (By the way, Doug and I have done all of these things):
- Make a list of activities that you used to participate in when you first met and plan some time to engage in those activities.
- Try to initiate some form of physical contact – a hug, a kiss or a touch – when you walk by your spouse.
- Always drop what you are doing and greet them when they walk in the door. Be happy to see them. Ask them about their day.
- Have your meals together – and talk. Don’t just grab your food and eat in front of the TV.
- Plan a date night – in your home. Go shopping for food and prepare a nice meal together. Grab some wine or beer, watch a good movie and then have wild sex.
- Avoid maintenance types of conversations or questions that only require a yes or no answer. Set time aside weekly to deal with all the logistics of the week so you can have daily conversations about good stuff.
- Plan a project around the house that you can complete together. It will be a good bonding experience, and men seem to be more open and willing to communicate when they are actively doing something.
- Plan family outings that are fun and relaxing. Ours usually center around the outdoors – kayaking, hiking, camping, rock climbing and being beach bums, for example.
- Send loving texts or notes to surprise your spouse during the day.
- Plan a surprise date and don’t tell your spouse where you are going.
- Take a class together. Learn a new skill.
- Spend a day exploring areas of the city (on foot if possible) that you live in that you aren’t real familiar with.
- Have a picnic together.
Being like “roommates” doesn’t have to be all that bad for a marriage. Since Doug’s emotional affair, we have chosen to be more “exciting roommates” rather than boring and lifeless roommates. Obviously, every couples’ definition of exciting is different, but the key is to do what you both enjoy and are comfortable with – together. So grab your spouse and a couple of drinks and put together your list of ways to shake things up a bit.
Please add your own suggestions so we can have a large list of ideas for readers to choose from.